In Hawai'i

We eat well. Chicken katsu. Loco moco. Beef stew. And rice. There’s always rice.

We talk pidgin. Choke is for plenty. Grindz is for food. Bumbai is for later. And Shoots is for…okay, let’s go, roger dat, we good.

We route with landmarks. Forty Niner diner or where the diner used to be. Mauka is toward the mountain, Makai toward the sea.

Everyone’s connected, whether you like it or not. Your cousin’s neighbor’s brother’s friend could be your teacher’s grandma’s sister’s hairdresser. So you never talk stink, ‘cause you might be related.

Everyone’s your aunty. Your mother’s sister. Your best friend’ mom. Even the lady at the grocery store. If she’s older than you but too young to be your grandma – she’s your aunty.

There’s always love and not much hate. Because us locals have Aloha. And Aloha means hello and Aloha means goodbye, but Aloha also means respect – Ho’ihi. So, we malama kekahi I kekahi.

We take care of one another.

Jennifer Lai was born and raised in Hawai'i, but now resides in Washington state. Her work can be found forthcoming in Flash Flood Journal, Versification, Five Minutes, and elsewhere.

You can see more of her work in 10.2

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